OOZ

OOZ

''At-a-boy!' said the odd-job man, reverently.

Lady Wetherby turned on him with some violence. His detached attitude was the most irritating of the many irritating aspects of the situation. She paid this man a weekly wage to do odd jobs. The capture of Eustace was essentially an odd job. Yet, instead of doing it, he hung about with the air of one who has paid his half-dollar and bought his bag of peanuts and has now nothing to do but look on and enjoy himself.

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'Why don't you catch him?' she cried.

The odd-job man came out of his trance. A sudden realization came upon him that life was real and life was earnest, and that if he did not wish to jeopardize a good situation he must bestir himself. Everybody was looking at him expectantly. It seemed to be definitely up to him. It was imperative that, whatever he did, he should do it quickly. There was an apron hanging over the back of a chair. More with the idea of doing something than because he thought he would achieve anything definite thereby, he picked up the apron and flung it at Eustace. Luck was with him. The apron enveloped Eustace just as he was winding up for another inshoot and was off his balance. He tripped and fell, clutched at the apron to save himself, and came to the ground swathed in it, giving the effect of an apron mysteriously endowed with life. The triumphant odd-job man, pressing his advantage like a good general, gathered up the ends, converted it into a rude bag, and one more was added to the long list of the victories of the human over the brute intelligence.

Everybody had a suggestion now. The cook advocated drowning. The parlour-maid favoured the idea of hitting the prisoner with a broom-handle. Wrench, eyeing the struggling apron disapprovingly, mentioned that Mr Pickering had bought a revolver that morning.

'Put him in the coal-cellar,' said Lady Wetherby.

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Wrench was more far-seeing.

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'If I might offer the warning, m'lady,' said Wrench, 'not the cellar. It is full of coal. It would be placing temptation in the animal's way.'

The odd-job man endorsed this.

'Put him in the garage, then,' said Lady Wetherby.

The odd-job man departed, bearing his heaving bag at arm's length. The cook and the parlour-maid addressed themselves to comforting and healing the scullery-maid. Wrench went off to polish silver, Lady Wetherby to resume her letters. The cat was the last of the party to return to the normal. She came down from the chimney an hour later covered with soot, demanding restoratives.

Lady Wetherby finished her letters. She cut them short, for Eustace's insurgence had interfered with her flow of ideas. She went into the drawing-room, where she found Roscoe Sherriff strumming on the piano.

'Eustace has been raising Cain,' she said.

The Press-agent looked up hopefully. He had been wearing a rather preoccupied air.

'How's that?' he asked.

'Throwing eggs and plates in the kitchen.'